By Sean Burtt
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is directed by Guy Ritchie. It is based upon a 1960’s television series of the same name, which I’m sure 60% of the audience who have seen this film have never heard of. The film follows Napoleon Solo, an ex-con turned CIA agent, (Henry Cavil) and Illya Kuryakin, a KGB agent, (Armie Hammer) as they become unlikely partners as they embark on a mission to stop a criminal organisation from making nuclear weapons. To help with this mission they must enlist Gaby (Alicia Vikander) whose father, a nuclear scientist, has been working for the criminal organisation.
This film was a pleasant surprise, I went in not expecting very much but expected to be enjoyed and thoroughly was. This film delivers on almost everything it tries to accomplish. It is a silly spy film but you don’t sit there and roll your eyes at the silliness there is a serious tone throughout the film. One of the biggest worries I had about the film was having to put up with a bad Russian accent from Armie Hammer but I have to give it to him, it was very good and believable. He and Cavil had brilliant chemistry on screen that led to quite a few laughs. Hugh Grant was a very good addition in the film he played the typical English man but it worked and they didn’t focus on his British-ness.
The women in this film (Alicia Vikander and Elizabeth Debicki) are very good and I like the roles that they don’t play damsels in distress they have strong and important roles in the film, which is refreshing. The action scenes are very well directed and are complemented by the score/soundtrack well. Ritchie uses split screen shots that almost look like comic strips which I don’t usually like but here they were used well and added something to the action. A trend with films recently is that the third act sort of falls apart and I can definitely say that doesn’t happen in this case, the third act is very good it does justice to the rest of the film, which can’t be said for other films.
The film is very fun and enjoyable but there are some problems I have with the film. For one, there isn’t much to the plot, it’s just really bog standard spy film, there is a bit of a twist but not one that makes you gasp. Although this film is very funny, some of the jokes fall flat and it is kind of awkward where you can see they’re trying to make a joke and no one in the cinema laughs. There also scenes which start out being funny and then get dragged out to the point where it isn’t funny anymore. Sometimes, when in a chase or action scene, the camera would zoom out of one character and move to the other character who is doing something else. I found this annoying. I know that they were trying to make it look like we were overseeing the mission but it didn’t work and took me out of the film a bit.
Earlier I said that I liked the split screen shots, however late in the film the two agents and a group of other agents raid an island (sorry if anyone counts that as a spoiler) and it is all done in a montage using this split screen this annoyed me a bit because there was a build up to this action set piece and it is over in ten seconds. Although this is because the raid is not the final part of the film, but still an important part for the rest of the film to continue. I just think that they could’ve focused on the raid as the final action set piece rather than turning it into a montage.
The major problem I have with this film is that throughout there are flashback whilst characters are explaining things and the flashbacks are things that the audience, well at least me, had already picked up on. I think the film makers though they were being cleverer than they actually were and thought the audience wouldn’t have clocked when they were actually happening.
In a world filled with serious spy films like Bond and Bourne it is nice to have a bit of a rest and have a bit of fun at the cinema. I’m not saying that the Bond and Bourne films aren’t good but there are different categories in the spy genre and The Man from U.NC.L.E. and those films are in very different categories. The film can get quite rude at points but not so rude that young children will pick up on it and if they do they will forget about it when the next joke hits. People should see this film. Bring on the sequel(s)!